A friend of the Moncton shooting suspect has been found fit to stand trial for charges of uttering death threats to law-enforcement officials.
Jasper Stam was scheduled for a bail hearing Monday morning, but the hearing was adjourned until Wednesday after a request from his lawyer, Jean Cormier, because of a time conflict on the lawyer's behalf. He was remanded into custody until the hearing.
Mr. Stam allegedly made the death threats between May 10 and May 18. At a hearing last Wednesday, he was ordered to undergo a five-day psychological evaluation to assess if he was fit for trial. On Monday, Mr. Cormier told reporters the assessment was complete and Mr. Stam was found capable of standing trial.
Justin Bourque, 24, was charged earlier this month with three counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder after three Moncton-area RCMP officers were killed and two more were injured in a series of shootings in northern Moncton on June 4.
Mr. Stam defended Mr. Bourque on his Facebook page, where he has also made numerous posts with anti-police views. He was arrested on the death-threat charges last Monday, June 9. The RCMP have said the charges are not connected with the three homicides.
Mr. Stam has been under court order not to communicate with Mr. Bourque since last Monday.
Mr. Stam appeared in the courtroom very briefly Monday, handcuffed, in a grey sweater with his long hair tied back, and appeared calm and subdued. Several friends sat in the gallery.
Mr. Cormier previously told The Globe and Mail that the psychological examination was solely to determine his mental capacity to stand trial and is not related to his client's mental state at the time of the alleged incident.
Nathan Newell, a friend of Mr. Stam, told The Globe last week that he was there when Mr. Stam was arrested. Mr. Stam had been leaning into a car talking to someone, he said, when four police officers approached, asked Mr. Newell to "stand back" and cuffed the accused.
"I can't think of an incident where he threatened a cop," Mr. Newell said, adding he's with Mr. Stam almost every day, including during the time period the alleged incident took place.
Mr. Newell said he didn't know much about Mr. Stam's relationship with Mr. Bourque, adding he himself had met the shooting suspect several times but that nothing had stood out about him.
In a Facebook post on June 7, Mr. Stam, alluding to Mr. Bourque, wrote: "Justin had no mental illness. he did not do hard drugs. he did not do anyone who deserved respect any wrong. Not ever."
In an apparent reference to police, Mr. Stam added that Mr. Bourque did not "pretend to be above others" as the "pigs do downtown and on the roads."
Mr. Newell said Mr. Stam's Facebook postings defending Mr. Bourque aren't out of character, since he tends to loudly voice his opinions and "is a very loyal person."
Tracy Petukhov, a friend and former employer of Mr. Stam, had earlier told The Globe that Mr. Stam was close with the shooting suspect and a group of other young men. Like Mr. Bourque, he was home-schooled and from a large, religious family, she said.
Mr. Stam is slated to appear in court for a bail hearing the morning of June 16.